Rep. Ryan: We Are on the Path to 'Debt Ruin'

One day after assuming office as new chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke out in an unscripted conversation about Republican plans to shrink the federal budget, lower taxes, tackle runaway entitlement programs, and seek tax reform. Eschewing formal press conferences or numbing presentations, the young chairman decided to explain his vision and strategy in an unusual casual “conversation” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He sat down on an unadorned stage with the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editor, Paul Gigot.

PJTV provided the only televised coverage of the entire hour-long exchange, and was the only broadcast network to show the proceedings live from the nation’s capital. The talk touched on a wide range of economic policy issues that will affect every American’s pocketbook and the financial health of future generations.

At the session Ryan warned that current high levels of spending are “putting us on a path of debt ruin, of a social welfare state.” He called for Congress and President Obama to pledge to become “a debt-free nation with a safety net, rather than a welfare state” like those in crisis-ridden Europe.

As House Budget Committee chairman, Ryan has been tapped by congressional Republicans to rewrite the federal budget and create a new blueprint by March 4. Ryan explained how he is approaching the task and his effort to find common ground with the Obama administration: if Congress wants a new program, he said new spending rules will force a cut or elimination of spending elsewhere.

While not committing himself to any number, including the $100 billion spending cut Republicans promised during the election, Ryan said his new budget would surprise the public. “We’re going to have really low numbers,” he told the audience at the National Press Club.